‘Moana’ in review

Latest Disney film strays from past movie traditions

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Moana and Maui battle for an island nation in an action-packed animated feature showing in Woodland Theater this weekend.

After a demigod triggered a curse set by an evil spirit years ago by stealing the heart of the island nation Te Fiti, one girl vows to set it right through a difficult quest.

“Moana,” Disney’s latest animated film, tells the story of a girl who ventures to save her island community, called Motunui. With the aid of her two animal sidekicks, Moana must traverse the ocean and restore life to the earth against a demigod, an evil spirit and an ancient curse.

Motunui, a tropical island in ancient Polynesia, is in deep trouble. Its crops are dying, the fish are gone from the sea and the people are losing hope. Desperate, they go to the village chief, Chief Tui for help; however, it is his daughter that answers their call.

But it is not just their plea she’s answering — the ocean also calls her.

Moana, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, has always been drawn to the water. So when her own father tells her to stay away because of the dangers beyond the reef, she struggles to obey his strict rules.

With the help of her two pets — a spotted pig and witless chicken — Moana is determined to find the demigod Maui and restore the heart of Te Fiti. After the heart is returned, the island will flourish once again. Her grandmother, Gramma Tala, helps her find the ocean’s call to save the island.

Tala showed Moana their family’s heritage. They were voyagers, longing to explore the areas beyond the reef. Even her father, who cautioned her to stay within the island, shared Moana’s longing to explore. But after he lost a friend in the ocean’s unforgiving tides, he became wary to return.

In order to restore the heart, Moana and Maui must venture into the ocean’s waters, get back Maui’s hook, which gives him his shape-shifting powers, and conquer Te Ka, an evil spirit who set the curse upon Te Fiti long ago. Te Ka has a secret hidden beyond its scary and dark complexion, which is unknown to the two heroes.

“Moana,” although it may be seen as a typical Disney Princess film, is attempting to stray away from tradition.

While Maui and Moana travel together, he says she is a princess. However, she responds negatively, saying she is the daughter of the chief, not a princess.

The power difference between the two of them makes their relationship a special one, and although Maui expects to do the work alone, Moana doesn’t let him. Maui taught Moana to sail, a skill necessary to successfully traverse the waters.

Confidence and courage help the two overcome challenges during the quest, two values Disney strives for audiences to see throughout the animated work.

The musical component of the movie is impressive, involving a nationally-known composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was behind the musical “Hamilton.” Other composers include Opetaia Foi’i and Mark Mancina.

Although the film is said not to be as popular compared to Disney’s “Frozen,” it was well-received, earning ratings of 7.7 out of 10 on IMDb, 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 3.5 out of four from Roger Ebert.

The film will be playing at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 2 in Woodland Theater. Admission is free to all students with a Blugold I.D.